Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

National Braille Literacy Month

On its home page this month, the Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation states:
“As a sighted person, it can be easy to dismiss Braille and the extreme importance it has for those right here in our community… One of the more alarming thoughts is that Braille is quickly becoming extinct. So, why is this a big deal?” Raquel O’Neill, LCSW and President of Blind Connect and Angela’s House, told an audience from NBCF. “Half the battle of learning Braille is just knowing the English language. Learning Braille teaches so many skills including versatility… Of the 30 percent [of blind people] who are employed, 90 percent know and use Braille daily.”

RDPFS intern Ahmat, who emigrated to the U.S. from Chad when he was thirteen, reinforces these statements in his personal story. “When I was in Sudan and Chad, I never knew a system like braille was available for the blind. In Chad, I went to school and did everything by memory. I couldn’t read nor write at that time. When I came to the United States, I had the chance to learn how to read and write braille (while also learning English). I could not do either before. There is debate among the blind as to whether, with the advancement of technology today, braille is still important. For me, technology goes in hand in hand with braille. In the past, using the Perkins brailler or slate was the only way to write in braille. Now, you can use iPhone’s braille screen input or get a braille display that connects to your computer. A screen reader or speech software can never replace braille because braille is still crucial for literacy. Simply, as a blind person, there is no ideal way for one to learn how to read or write without braille”.